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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Ed Helms had no idea his character Andy Bernard on television's "The Office" would be promoted until a few weeks before shooting began on season eight of the NBC comedy.
"I knew about three or four weeks before we started shooting," Helms told reporters on Tuesday. "(Executive producer) Paul (Lieberstein) and I had lunch and that's where I learned of the news."
The news was a long time coming for fans as well as the ensemble group of actors who make up the Emmy award-winning NBC series. Last year, when "Office" star Steve Carell, who played office manager Michael Scott, announced he would be leaving after 7 seasons, much speculation followed about who would fill his shoes.
"Right away the question that came up was: 'What's gonna happen next?'" Helms said in a conference call. "There just wasn't an answer for a long, long time which in some ways was a blessing. It gave us all time to zen out about it and come to terms with whatever it might be."
Last season saw Will Ferrell come in as Deangelo Vickers, the interim boss of the Scranton branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin paper plant.
It culminated with a May finale that featured a slew of actors playing characters interviewing for the position including Will Arnett, Ray Romano, Jim Carrey and James Spader -- along with plenty of internal candidates.
The season 8 opener last Thursday revealed that Spader's Robert California got the job, but then leveraged it to become the new chief executive. He chose Andy Bernard to be the new office manager.
"There are a lot of aspects to the Andy Bernard character that makes him extremely suited to manager," said Lieberstein, who also plays human resources representative Toby Flenderson.
"He cares about people more than about the product. Any little problem that anybody's having, he would feel very deeply, which makes him very suited to being a comic lead on the show and a story generator."
The upcoming season promises many clashes among the characters, beginning with Robert California, whose "crazy energy ...is not something that Andy Bernard is equipped to deal with," said Helms.
Helms also revealed that Andy's relationship with Erin the receptionist (played by Ellie Kemper) will be further heightened.
"With Andy's new boss position, there's a power dynamic that comes into play which makes all of that tension and awkwardness that much more difficult," revealed Helms. "Things do get tricky, especially around Halloween."
Singer Josh Groban, will guest star later in the season playing Andy's brother.
"Josh's appearance is part of a really exciting episode for me and for Andy because it's really where we learn a lot about Andy. Not all of it's good and some of its poignant. Of course there is some fun music that gets mixed in there too," Helms said.
Editing by Jill Serjeant